What makes Instagram so appealing to advertisers?

Instagram is not just about attractive visual content anymore, as it turns into a powerful marketing tool for every business. How did it turn the passion into a purchase?

Instagram announced that it hosts more than 500.000 advertisers on its platform who search for new ways to market their business, or their service. It’s interesting that this number has been doubled the past 6 months, as it aligns with Instagram’s efforts to help businesses grow through its platform.

More than 1 billion actions have been taken since last September, when ads were introduced, and by the time the link ad format changed in June, the ad performance has been increased by more than 45%.

What makes Instagram special?

Instagram combines engaged communities with business opportunities in a balanced way that both users and brands can appreciate.

It may have been late in the realisation that it can be more than just a platform full of beautiful content, but the last year was full of steps towards the right direction. Luckily for users these steps don’t disrupt their experience and they are still placed at the centre of the platform.

Instagram is still about attractive visual content, but it now explores the possibilities of finding the sweet spot between great content and effective marketing efforts.

It’s not easy for a social platform to become serious about advertising without affecting the user experience and that’s a challenge that Instagram seems to be serious with.

Instagram community was always vital, with #CommunityFirst being among its core beliefs and that’s why brands flock to the platform to discover the right community that could be relevant for their brand.

Global interest from businesses

It’s a good sign for Instagram that the advertising growth is global, with the top five countries in advertising adoption spreading all over the world (US, Brazil, UK, Australia, and Canada).

The success of Instagram advertising lies on Facebook’s support regarding the target audience, but also on the various different industries that can benefit from it, with the top five advertising verticals for Q3 2016 being CPG, ecommerce, retail, entertainment, and technology.

This diversity proves that every brand can use Instagram to grow its presence, reach a new audience, encourage app installs, or even generate relevant leads.


Grabble for example was among the companies that used Instagram Business Tools to examine how they affect their marketing success on the platform. It turned out very useful for them, gaining a better understanding of their audience, compiling their process with their business profile and most importantly, using Instagram’s new ad formats.

According to Jack Rogers, Grabble’s Head of Marketing, the new ad formats led to 23% more users month over month and tripled the sales for certain categories.

A warm welcome for Business Tools

A common problem for marketers on Instagram was the lack of native tools and insights to help them grow a brand’s presence. This led to the creation of numerous third-party tools for every use, although there was still a gap regarding Instagram’s understanding of a marketer’s perspective.

This changed a few months ago when Instagram launched Business Tools, which introduced business pages, insights and promoted posts directly through the app. There may not be an option to schedule a post yet (which is highly desired), but these tools still make the first step towards the right direction.

More than 1.5 million businesses have already converted to a business profile, which proves the demand of a professional presence that would facilitate the communication with the customers.

What’s next?

How users engage with businesses

Instagram may have started as a source of visual inspiration for users, but it’s interesting to monitor its evolution, by the time more businesses joined the platform. Instagram users are not alienated (yet) by the increasing presence of businesses, with 50% of them following at least one business account.

What’s more, 60% of people say that they learn about a product, or a service through Instagram, turing the platform into a new way of increasing awareness for brands.

However, it’s not just about increasing awareness, as 75% of Instagram users proceed to an action after being inspired by a post, whether it’s a click, a visit, a search, a referral, or a purchase.

This is probably the most important statistic and it serves as a great reason on how brands benefit from an Instagram presence. Despite the misconception that Instagram is mostly about raising awareness and increasing a community, it may also work very effectively in ecommerce, driving action towards the set goals.

As James Quarles, VP of Monetisation at Instagram, mentioned:

“We’re proving that Instagram is a place where inspiration sparks meaningful action for businesses, from finding new customers to driving sales.”

What else to ask?

Instagram is acknowledging its business aspect, and this is a great step towards its monetisation, but we’re hoping it will help businesses even more, following the steps of its “big brother”, Facebook.

Instagram is certainly different from Facebook, but we’d love to see:

  • a more detailed page manager
  • further business opportunities
  • enhanced management of posts (including scheduling)
  • better management of Stories for brands
  • improved analytics (how about copying Snapchat’s views and print screen metrics?)

Even the smallest tweaks could encourage more businesses explore its potential, which is sometimes bigger than what many business owners think.

Instagram has the power to blend creativity with action and it’s not easy to achieve it, especially in a demanding audience.

However, as B2B brands become more creative, we are all learning that there’s always a new approach towards your business, provided that you’re willing to experiment with it.

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